Critics of a new law allowing illegal immigrants in New York to get driver's licenses warned that the new policy could lead to voter fraud — and one of the bill's sponsors agreed.
What's the background?
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a law that gives illegal immigrants the right to obtain driver's licenses in the state. Under this law, illegal immigrants can provide foreign documents as proof of identity instead of U.S. documents. In order to drive in the state, these new licensees would also be required to have auto insurance, just like every other driver.
The law passed the state legislature along party lines. It will take effect in 178 days.
However, multiple county clerks in the state have said that they will refuse to comply with the law. Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns told the Buffalo News that he planned to go one step further and file a legal challenge to the law in the U.S. District Court.
What happened now?
"[A] major concern is that many states, including New York, use their DMVs to enroll voters. Since New York does not have voter-identification laws like the majority of other states do, this bill increases the potential for voter fraud," state Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan (R) said, according to the New York Post.
Flanagan called the law the "most radical, open-ended law in the entire nation."
John Conklin, a spokesman for the state's Board of Elections, also confirmed that prospective voters only need to show a driver's license as proof of ID.
Even supporters of the legislation, like bill sponsor Luis Sepúlveda (D) admitted that "theoretically" illegal immigrants who obtained these new driver's licenses "could have the ability to vote." But, he argued, this should not prevent illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses, since there would always be ways to commit voter fraud, but that such instances were uncommon.
"A teenager could get a form" and commit voter fraud under the current system, he argued, adding "there's nothing that is 100 percent foolproof."